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Brass Bands for Elementary Schools (Concluded)

Author(s): John E. Borland

Source: The Musical Times, Vol. 76, No. 1113 (Nov., 1935), pp. 993-996
Published by: Musical Times Publications Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/920374
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November, 1935 THE MUSICAL TIMES 993

Teachers' Department
Concluded from October issue, p. 911


Variety of Tone rigidly customs which are to-day somewhat out-
HERE seems to be an impression that an moded in several respects.
all-brass band must be monotonous. This The Trombones
is far from the truth. In the hands of the
Here we find another notable addition to our
school pupil of moderate musical ability a cornet tone qualities. Their timbre is quite different
is capable of as much expressive variety as a from that of the Sax instruments, but blends
violin in similar hands, and possesses also an with them all. Trombones have been made with
agility which is astonishing to a listener who has pistons, as well as with slides as shown on
not perhaps given thought to the brass instru- page 996, and when pistons are used the trans-
ments. Let him take an opportunity to listen ference of a player from a cornet or a saxhorn is
carefully to the brass in the band of a good line a simple matter; but the gain in facing at once
regiment, or to a ' crack' industrial brass band:
he will have a pleasurable experience in grasping
the possibilities of the instruments of the Sax
family in tone qualities and in agility. He may
then go a step farther and listen to one of the
Guards' bands or to the full band at Kneller Hall.
No monotony is found here even in the tone of a
single group of the brass, while we have several
distinct varieties at our disposal. We have (1)
the average Sax tone as shown already in the
quartet of cornets, &c.; we can add (2) the
mellower tones of Fliigel horn and French horn
for enrichment of the alto and tenor ranges; and
we can contrast with these (3) the more brilliant
tones of the trumpet and trombone families.
The cornet family contributes also one more
element of variety, namely, the little soprano
cornet which revels in the treble leger lines and
adds a glorious brightness to high melodies and
The Fliigel horn is of the same tube-length as the
B flat cornet, but of fuller tone, blending perfectly
yet contrasting effectively with the Sax instru-
ments of smaller bore. The French horn is of
course an acquisition for any band, with its fine
sustaining effects; but it is rather difficult to
play and rather expensive to buy. In boys'
bands the tenor cor offers a good compromise.
Any player of cornet or saxhorn can transfer
easily to the tenor cor and later, when more
experienced, to the French horn-it has a similar
shape and some likeness of tone.
The Trumpets
These give a fine addition to soprano and alto BASS TUBA

brass tone. The small trumpet of to-day has a

tube-length the same as the B flat cornet, but its the slide trombone is so great that the extra
bore is smaller and its mouthpiece shallower, difficulty is more than balanced. This gain is
giving a brilliancy of tone in forte passages, blend- twofold: (1) the slide trombone has greater
ing with the rest of the band when it is not forced, artistic value than its piston-worked brother; its
and capable of a very musical piano tone. This power of producing perfect intonation at the
trumpet can be played straight away by a cornet player's will makes it a perpetual means of
player: he has nothing to unlearn except a little exercising the musical ear; and (2) the player is
difference in sensation. Some writers for brass preparing himself for usefulness later in orchestral
bands and organizers of competition festivals work if do
he pursues his studies in that direction.
not as yet recognise the trumpet as a member In the full
ofband it is usual to have two tenor
the family. But schools need not follow too trombones in B flat, playing tenor or alto par

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994 THE MUSICAL TIMES November, 1935

or sometimes joining the bass trombone in tone for brass bands until the players are able
powerful unison or octave passages. The B flat to tackle the full-scale bass tubas. These latter
trombone has the same series of open notes as deep basses mean as much to the brass band a
the B flat cornet, an octave lower; and its scale the Bourdon and Open Diapason mean to the
is completed by sliding out the main tubes in six
positions corresponding to the- six semitones of
the Sax pistons. The bass trombone is pitched
in G, a minor third below the tenor. Owing to
the length of its slide the bass trombone has a
skid or handle to help in reaching the extreme
positions. The trombones form a splendid self-
contained group for either solo or harmonic work.
They have a wide range of pitch, of power, of
quality, from extremes of brassiness in fortissimo
to a liquid mellowness in pianissimo which is one
of the greatest compellers of musical emotion
which man's inventiveness has secured through
ages of experimenting. SOPRANO CORNET IN E FLAT

The Bass Tubas

organ, or the stringed double-bass means
Wind bands which once entrusted their lowest
bass parts to the shawms, the bass serpentorchestra.
Enough has been said about the absence of
its successor the ophicleide, owe an immense debt
monotony in brass bands when they are properly
constituted and properly taught, and there is no
need to hanker too soon after the greater variety
which the full reed band offers.

The Reed Band

The reed instruments are very expensive to buy
and to maintain in working order. They need
specialised teachers and pupils of greater dexterity
than that which the average boy in the elementary
school can acquire. The brass band is adequate
to develop the ' band sense,' and the keener boys
can easily proceed up the ladders of the full reed
band and the full orchestra at a later date, when
recruits will also be appearing from the school
violin classes. The secondary school with its
various organizations can provide plenty of scope
for these more advanced young musicians.
Odd Instruments
Are the occasional players of flutes, clarinets,
saxophones, to be discouraged, in forming brass
bands in elementary schools ? Not at all. We
are wise if we start humbly and accept gratefully
any instrumental talent which the school may
possess. Room can be found for any instrument
TENOR COR IN E FLAT so long as it does not tempt us to alter the con-
stitution of our brass band. It will be well to
to the Sax inventions which carried a full andkeep this firmly in mind. Let our brass band
manageable tone into the ' 16-ft.' octave. In really such, while not at first rigidly excludi
the full brass band two kinds of bass tuba or players of the instruments named above from
bombardon are employed, namely an ordinary
bass in E flat, an octave lower than the
tenor saxhorn, and a contrabass in BB flat
which has double the tube-length of the Or
euphonium. But these are large and F
heavy instruments for boys, and it may
be found desirable to be satisfied at first
with the euphonium for fundamental tone.
Instrument makers have indeed made
euphoniums for boys with a specially wide
bore in order to provide a satisfactory
bass tone without undue bulk or weight. TRUMPET IN B FLAT

In addition there is the circular bombardon,

or 'Helicon,' in which the weight is carried taking
on part in unison or octave wit
instruments of suitable pitch. Even
the shoulder of the player, instead of pressing
on his ribs. These are means for getting bass B flat fife, cheap and easy, but good w

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November, 1935 THE MUSICAL TIMES 995

handled, may play with the cornetsRepertory in unison or

of Music
octave. (Note that its part will have to be Mr. W. R. Anderson has recently been inveigh-
written a tone higher than the cornet part: iting
is against the poverty of the music which is
really a fife in A flat, according to ordinary often broadcast by brass bands. This is by no
orchestral nomenclature.) means to say that no better music is available.
Cornet Classes The English publishers of brass - band music
If a full band should seem to offer too many possess long lists of good pieces, mostly in the
difficulties at first, useful work can be done in
cornet classes on lines similar to the violin classes
which have so abundantly justified themselves
during the past thirty years. Perhaps few
musicians realise what an excellent effect can be
produced by cornets in unison. As with violins
and voices, so with brass instruments: bad
qualities seem to disappear and good qualities to
be enhanced in unison work.

Percussion Instruments
It is debatable whether percussion instruments
should be used in small bands. I personally think
not; for ordinary purposes let us base our little
school bands on the vocal work, and aim at
smooth sustained tone. But we may remember
form of arrangements, many of them very
well scored, and a small but growing list
of original pieces. The B.B.C. could perform a
valuable service by criticising the programmes
offered by the bands, but they do not seem likely
to do so at present, judging by their admission
of so much stodgy stuff to their 'variety' pro-
grammes while better material is at hand. But the
schools are not dependent for musical taste on radio
programmes, and it is possible for a new type of
band music to be evolved through a movement to
encourage bands in the schools. I have mentioned
hymn-tunes as a basis for elementary brass work.
Why not follow on by using that supply of beautiful
vocal part-music which has lately fallen so much
into neglect ? Mendelssohn's ' Open Air' part-
songs, for example, are ideal pabulum for beginners
on brass instruments, just as they stand, or with
slight filling out by judicious doublings-with no
sugary ' counter' melodies please !-and we
might include also hundreds of delightful move-
ments from 18th-century suites, while by no
means neglecting our heritage of national and
folk-songs and folk-dances. At a later stage of
advancement in technique let bandmasters look
for the best of what publishers have already
produced in the way of more elaborate pieces, as
an inducement to the publishers to increase
gradually their more artistic lists, and to drop
many of the flimsier ' selections ' with their boring

Here I close for the present. Readers who are
interested may supplement these remarks by
ORCHESTRAL FRENCH HORN referring to certain books such as 'The Brass
Band, and How to Write for It' by the late
Dr. Charles Vincent, published originally by the
at the same time that a brass band is mobile and Vincent Music Company. It is a small book but
may be used for marching, and that its rhythm gives a clear introduction to the subject; ' The
can be enhanced by judicious use of drums, Brass Band,' by Harold C. Hind, published by
cymbals, and triangle. Moreover, these additionsMessrs. Boosey & Hawkes (5s.)-to whom I am
are not expensive and serve to employ extra indebted for the loan of the picture blocks which
hands. The main need is to keep this rhythmic illustrate these articles. Mr. Hind gives pictorial
element intelligent, and not to allow it to contri- illustrations which almost dispense with the need
bute a meaningless thud, thud, to the already for verbal descriptions of the instruments. The
prominent accents. liaisons between the brass band and the orchestra,

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996 THE MUSICAL TIMES November, 1

and the brass band and the organ, are well In conclusion for the present
present II may
may quote
quote aa
established both by Mr. Hind and by Mr. Denis few extra points in favour of of brass
brass playing
playing for
Wright in his ' Scoring for Brass Bands ' (Joshuayoung people. Mr. Montague George (Messrs.
Duckworth, 4s. 6d.). Both of these books deal Rudall Carte) draws attention to the fact that
clearly with the question of transposing and the such players rarely acquire any form of lung
use of the clefs, and their specimens of scoring are trouble, and that some who started with a tendency

_52-iiii BW.gffil.J M B lff!


illuminative. Information about the wind of to

to weakness
weakness in in
have have
it. it.
the orchestra as compared with that of the This
This brass
by by
band is to be found in ' The Instruments of the point
raisedbybyan enthusiastic
an enthusiastic
Modern Orchestra' by George Yendis (Rudall '' The
' can' can
an esprit
an esprit
de de
Carte, 6d.) and in 'The Instruments of the corps in a school which cannot be overvalued.'
Orchestra ' by John E. Borland (Novello, Is. 6d.). Someone wrote not long ago that the soul of
Both of these are illustrated pictorially. Grove's the regiment is in the band. The same may
Dictionary also supplies sidelights by Mr. D. J.apply to the schools. Boys, and girls too, may
Blaikley and other experts. A useful booklet find an uplift in their present school life, and see
also is 'School Bands and Orchestras' (Boosey, a future of unmeasurable possibilities as they
gratis), issued under the advisership of Sir Arthur continue similar work in after-school activities.
Somervell and other authorities on musical A vision of beauty can come through the band;
education. an ineffaceable memory of it may be carried
through life.

p. 919
p. 919



Grade VI. Intermediate middle
middle part.
is an is
an irritating
in in
List A. bar 10 where the L.H. chord on the second beat
Handel. Courante in F minor. Crotchet 144. should be one of A minor (as in bar 10 on p. 14)
The copy is very fully edited, with a good deal
and not of F major. The L.H. contains some
of phrasing and 'pedalling. Command ofwidespread
part- chords, and this would be an unsuit-
able choice for a candidate with small hands.
playing is the chief requirement, and this implies
much attention to fingering. The repeats on pp. 14 and 15 should, I think, be
Beethoven. Minuet and Variations. Crotchet observed: without them the structure loses
88. shape.
A very deliberate minuet: my choice of tempo List B.
may seem somewhat slow, but it must be remem- Couperin. 'L'Atalante.' Crotchet 92.
bered that Variation I. with all its figuration has
Atalanta, the daughter of Schoeneus, was
to move at the same time, and presumably
Variations III. and IV. with their multitudinous celebrated for her swiftness in running. How-
ever, do not run this two-part study off its legs,
notes, also. Musically, this is very poor Beet- as clearness and precision will count before mere
hoven and it is difficult to get any kick out pace.
of it.
Technically it includes a good deal of useful
Beethoven. Andante in C. Crotchet 88.
material. Ignore all repeats-it is very long
without them. A well-known set of Variations: people tend
Schumann. 'Solitary Flowers.' Crotchet 96. to overdo the sf markings-they are reinforce-
A duet with both voices in the right hand: get ments, and not accents. In the final variation
the voices equal in tone, and the style lyrical, butthe notes of the theme (coming as the highest
simple: not everyone will care to take the notes notes of the semiquaver groups) may be brought
in bar 12 in the L.H.: to do so gives an effect of slightly into prominence.
jumpiness which is foreign to the character of theBrahms. Waltz in C sharp minor. Crotchet
piece. 120.
York Bowen. Mazurka. Crotchet 132. A slow-moving waltz of the Landler type.
Much in the style of Chopin's Mazurkas,
and sonorous in its harmonies. Be quite
its rhythmic swing and under melody in asthe
clear to which signs are ties and which slurs.

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